As we move into the latter part of summer our kitchen and herb gardens should be in full swing. Harvesting becomes a daily affair, and most likely you will have grown more fresh herbs than you can use. When it comes to herbs this is a good thing, as they dry so well for use all through the winter months.
When to Pick Your Herbs
The best time to pick your herbs is in the morning after the dew has evaporated and before the hot sun burns off their essential oils. Pick from healthy plants, wash lightly and pat dry with a cloth or paper towel.
How to Dry Your Herbs
To dry fresh herbs you can gather the stems and tie together to hang upside down for drying or you can place them on a screen in a single layer. Good ventilation is required to speed up the drying process and to prevent mold. If you hang them to dry place them in a warm, dark and dry area.
Another method of drying fresh herbs is to use your microwave oven. Arrange your herbs on a paper towel and begin with 60 seconds. Drying times will vary on the kind of herb and the quantity you are drying. If you start too fast, they might become powdery. Once your herbs are dried, place them in air tight containers or jars, date and label. Store in a dark food closet.
How to Freeze Your Herbs
You can also freeze your herbs. Place them in labeled plastic bags or containers. You can also freeze them in ice cube trays. Finely chop your herb and place 1 teaspoon into an ice cube tray then fill with water and freeze. When using them your frozen herbs can go right into your pot, there is no need for defrosting.
Fresh dried herbs are very superior to anything you might purchase at the store. Try to use your herbs up over the winter as their flavors start to diminish after about 6 months. If you have more dried fresh herbs than you can ever use, fill attractive glass jars and tie with lace or ribbon to give as gifts.